A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: kkoopmanschap

Escaping

sunny 22 °C

A new adventure! This time in New Zealand. We decided to turn the Easter break into a 10 day south island adventure.

Today was the manic start. Work lke crazy, then home to pack the car. This was no mean feat on my own, and of course the sun came out to play. It was at least 25 degrees in our driveway. Still 29mins later (my estimate had been 30mins, so I was pretty chuffed!), I was outside the Taxman Rugby Union to collect Pete. Away!

The 4 hr drive to Hanmer Springs is always a delight. The scenario for pretty much the whole way is stunning. Shame that the last 30mins was pretty hard- wind and darkness proving a tad tiring. Still made it safely, with normal life left behind.

A nice homemade platter and beers at our digs. Perfect set-up to our adventure!

Posted by kkoopmanschap 02:08 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

More driving

overcast 18 °C

On a day when pretty much everything is shut, it was fitting we had 377km to drive, oh, and one special pop-in.

A lazy holiday sleep-in was first. Then a fry up for breakkie at our backpackers. After a stressful week leading up to the holiday, having these simple pleasures were just the best way to relax into holiday mode.

On the road after 10am, cruising through beautiful Waipara and north Canterbury. Coffee at Amberley, a crawl around cones in Christchurch, then on to Hinds. Why? We had to meet Libbey and Tana. Libbey is a breeder, well actually a farmer. Tana is our puppy to be. It was so good to meet them. Settled my nerves a lot.

Back on to Timaru for a late lunch, then on to Oamaru. A walk down to the old town. Ironically, the last 1km of the a2o trail, with signs to remind us. We laugh trying to imagine how we will feel next Friday riding it. Steam punk alive and well in the Victorian precinct. Loved the ghost train. Then back to the Top 10 for a quiet evening. Ignoring what lies ahead, great road trip day.

Posted by kkoopmanschap 22:17 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Oamaru chilling

semi-overcast 20 °C

Another lay day for us. Our rendezvous was 3.15pm at the i-site.

Sleep in, relaxed pack and breakkie at the camp site. Then a nice meander in town. A bit of shopping, a spot of coffee.

Back to pack at our car, then to the Victorian Precinct for a pint before our trip started.

So, the shuttle was fill with another party of eight doing the trail. We didn't exactly bound, but showed we weren't the only ones!

Twizel for the night was fun. Great sleight jugs as sundowner, then a yummy meal at Shawtys.

Chilled now, ready for tomorrow 's action.

Posted by kkoopmanschap 02:42 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 1: Tekapo to Twizel

sunny 20 °C

Isn't a 5.30am alarm a sure sign of an adventure? We groaned but we're out of bed smartly and away.

The cycle to the bus depot was chilly, and dark. Must have been about 5 degrees! We were the only folk on the bus, and flew to Tekapo under a starry sky. We breakfast ed on the shores at the only early morning cafe option. Average food and laughably grumpy service, but inside as the day broke. Mountains turned from black to tussock, and the lake showed herself. Pretty start to our adventure.

After climbing a little and hurtling down a rocky decline, we found ourselves beside the Tekapo canal. This was our way for 25km. And it was beautiful. Flat, blue, and calming. There was roadway, some sealed some not, alongside. Besides a few fishermen here and there we were alone in this huge amphitheater.

We stopped at the head of the canal for a snack. Aoraki was gleaming, majestic above the Southern Alps. Next we dropped down 150m to the shore of Lake Pukaki. Our fasted couple of kilometers i'm sure. Thankfully on sealed road. Then along the glacial lake front for about 10km. It was even warm enough to shed a layer of merino.

We lunched on salmon sashimi on the lakefront. The sun, the lake, the mountain! Spectacular. Hundreds of tourists thought so too. It was an out of the box day. Postcards are made on days such as these. We enjoyed a long break, especially since we just had 10km to go. That last stretch took us away from the lakes, and across the tussock grass lands. Interesting contrast.

We were chuffed to make it back to our motel. High five!

We relaxed for the rest of afternoon, Easter Sunday at the motel.

Posted by kkoopmanschap 21:39 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 2: Twizel to Lake Ohau lodge

sunny 20 °C

We woke relaxed, but a bit sore from our first days efforts. We planned a lazy start as today was shorted, a mere 38km in the saddle.

Breakfast of kings in our room -salmon scrambled eggs - was a perfect start. We timed everything so we were checking out at 10am. The day was overcast, but forecast to clear, so a later start was ideal.

First out a back road of Twizel to the Pukaki canal. Then a wonderful stretch of sealed road along that, and onto the Ohau canal. All the while there was grey sky above, but the sun was fighting to break through. Inch by inch the majestic mountains surrounding us were revealed. The canal because,me glacial aqua and the tussock turned golden.

After 18km we reached Lake Ohau shore. It was a mirror like glass. We had the adventure of riding across a weir (a Ford really, but with a lake on one side. Could only imagine the carnage if it was flooding. A2O has a flood route alternative, so it must happen fairly often. Then there was a great stretch for about ten kminutes on an off road track, right beside the lake. We stopped for a while at a stoney beach to take in the scenery and solitude. The mountains look down on you, and you are in awe of the amazing countryside. Pinch me beautiful. Shh, don't tell anyone.

Round the lake a bit more and we joined the road. A few km on that and we turned off to Lake Ohau village. The added climb did not reward us with a shop, but there was a magic picnic spot, so we lunched on yogurt and peanuts from our bag. A big group of cyclists disturbed our peace, otherwise we would have stayed longer, marveling at the amazing vista. The last 5km of the day to the lodge were the hardest. A brisk breeze had blown up, and of course it was a headwind. Still, we made it!

We arrived in a busy checking time, so instead enjoyed their deck, and some 3 boys IPA. Nice.

We had a fab evening at the lodge. The scenery was magic, beer good, company always great with Pete. We played pool, then called to dinner. It was a shared table, with two other couples. Good storytellers, nice folk. Farm to farm, and couch surfing. .good times.

Posted by kkoopmanschap 22:01 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 3: Lake Ohau Lodge to Omarama

overcast 15 °C

A tough altitude day lay ahead. We slept well, and enjoyed the cooked breakfast (like we needed it after rib eye and duck confit last night!)

We were second to last to leave, pretty happy not to have the group of ten directly ahead of us. It was overcast, with rain up the top of the lake. The off road track was bumpy, and the track idled along the side of the range. We gradually climbed, then climbed some more. Slow and steady. But it was a whoop of delight when we reached the highest point. 900m, a climb of 450m for us that morning.

The downhill was bumpy too. But such a buzz! So much fun heading down. We ate our packed lunch just before we joined the road. Wow, a gravel road seemed like such luxury! And more downhill, for 18km! I couldn't help but notice how much braver I was on this surface after a couple of days riding. Down we continued, then joined a heavenly sealed road. It felt so smooth. The scenery changed from tussock to farm, merino sheep looked up at us as we whizzed past.

We arrived in Omarama about 3pm, just as our bag arrived. Perfect. Shower, then to the local for one in the sun. Yes, the sun came out now! We shopped at the 4 square, and headed back to the campsite for a sundowner and a quiet dinner. (I really had aimed to go to the hotpools under the stars, but at $90, really???)

Magic day.

Posted by kkoopmanschap 22:05 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 4: Omarama to Kurow

semi-overcast 15 °C

We woke to an awesome clear sky day, for our longest distance day. What a relief!

We got on the road by about 9.30am, after a nice chilled breakfast in our unit. The only off note was the hot rod cars who idled in either unit beside us, oblivious to the petrol smell. Still, off and away. A gorgeous stretch along a trail beside Lake Benmore. All too soon though we had 5km on state highway 83, to climb over a saddle to get to Otematata. The downhill was worth it!

We stopped for a coffee break in the village, pleased to have the first 24km of our day completed. Next we skirted Lake Avimore, to get to the imposing Benmore Hydro dam. It really was a juxtaposition of man made concrete against a backdrop of natural beauty. Still, we cycled on, and up, to the dam. Quite a mission, but we did it!! The views over the valley below were impressive, as was the massive hydro pipes we looked down on.

Next we had a 27km ride around the Avimore lake. It was lovely, up until a headwind started up! Then it was hard work. We stopped for lunch at one of the rustic campsites. It was mostly deserted now, but must heave over summer. Duel recorded in our 'when we're retired' file. Still, we needed to push on. Round the lake another 10km, and we reached the dam head. It was still a buzz to cycle over it, but it just didn'T have the scale of Benmore.

The last 1km were back on state highway 83. It was all a bit tough really. The thought of a cold beer at the end kept us going. Past the third hydro station, Qatari, and on to Kurow. The two pubs were not set up for bikes, and we didn'T want to leave them fully laden on the street, so the pint had to wait. We whizzed back 150m to our accommodation -Riverside b and b, quickly let ourselves in and dumped our panniers. We raced back to the pub! There were friendly locals, and standard beer, but it tasted good. Thirst quenched, after a couple, we headed back to the bnb.

Kieran and Lynn had a gorgeous three room bnb, and we're fab hosts. We showered, then joined them at the bar beside the kitchen, and chatted to them as they prepared dinner. Duck confit no less! The evening passed quickly. Entertaining stories, great food and non stop wine. Great fun.

Posted by kkoopmanschap 19:06 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 5: Kurow to Duntroon

sunny 18 °C

This was our near-rest day. A mere 28km to our destination. Felt pretty good.

We slept late, then had a great cooked breakfast, and said our farewells to our hosts. On the road just after 10am. Sweet. The aches of yesterday just melted away. We were on a pretty off road trail, burbling beside the Waitaki river. Very kindly, there was a winery on the trail after 5km, so we had to stop for a coffee there. Back on the trail, with two stream crossings to add an adventure. We stopped briefly to look at Maori art on some limestone rocks. Then on through some wetland, and we made it to Duntroon.

Our accommodation was a self catered cottage, Kowhai Cottage. It was very sweet. There was a cool garden, nice treats for us inside, lots of kiwiana, and plenty of sunshine. We showered, then just chilled in the garden. Absolute tranquility. Our aching limbs relaxed, and the afternoon sauntered by. The owner, Kat, came up to say hi about 5pm, and then we wandered down to the Duntroon Tavern. Hardly a charming local, but effective. We were quizzed about the trail by the locals, and then just drank out handles of Speights at a bar leaner. Farmers came and chatted away and then left. Nice local vibe.

We walked back to the cottage, and had a light meal and watched tv, with a fire going - more for atmosphere than the temperature demanded it. A pretty near perfect "rest day."

Posted by kkoopmanschap 17:58 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 6: Duntroon to Oamaru

overcast 15 °C

The final day of our epic ride. And it was a tough one. 55km, with at least two climbs, before the final descent to sea level. We breakfasted at the cottage and were on the road shortly after 9am. It was a grey day, and at time there were spots of rain. It stayed just as a threat for most of the day. After a nice flat 5km warm-up, were started to climb the first of the hills. There was a stopping point halfway up - a geological site - Elephant Rocks.

Too grey to hang around, we climbed on the bikes and steadily climbed some more. The track then went off piste, through some farms. It went through a cool gully, but then we had to push the bikes up a zigzag to get above the gully. Quite pretty, but very knackering. Then along a ridge and through some more farms.

We left behind the limestone cliffs, and then into rolling farmland. Rolling being a kind way of saying there continued to be lots of ups. Pete came close to losing his temper, but then we had an amazing downhill coast that was quite magic. There was a picnic spot at the bottom - not exactly pretty, but it had a loo, drinking water tap and a table. And, 27km of the day complete.

Next up was a 450m railway tunnel. It was dark, and I find them disorientating, even with our lights on. But - something unusual to add to the day. Then more rolling countryside! Most of it was on secondary roads, and we whizzed through the countryside. I have to admit, it was a relief to get to a sign at Weston, saying 5.7km to the end! And even better, we were on the final 100m of descent. First on the old railway line, and then down some back streets of Oamaru. Into the public gardens, and to the end, beside the Pacific Ocean at Oamaru harbour. We made it!!!

We celebrated with a couple of beers and a pizza at Scotts Brewery, right on the waterfront. It was a pleasant spot - even though the weather kept us indoors. Then back to the campsite, collected Chalkie, and showered to revive ourselves.

We had a nice evening in Oamaru - Scotts again, and then to the Criterion for a yummy meal and some wine. We chatted with a couple who had also just completed the trail, before calling it a night. Happy with our achievement.

Posted by kkoopmanschap 18:04 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Moeraki rest day

overcast 15 °C

Since we were so close, we had decided that dinner at Fleurs Place in Moeraki should be our reward for completing the trail. We slept late, and then packed up the car - separating out the smelly cycling gear, and enjoying putting the bikes on the racks and knowing we wouldn't use them again until Tuesday.

We mooched in Oamaru for the morning - a bit of shopping and some great brunch at Steam Cafe. We visited Whitestone Cheesery, and had a great experience there with a wonderful French assistant talking us through the cheeses, with just such a beautiful accent. I swear we bought more cheese because of that!

We stopped at Moeraki Boulders on the way south. The misty overcast day with spray in the air gave an eery perspective of these ancient concretions. (yes, we learnt that word there too!). By 2pm, we were ensconced in our delux motel unit in Moeraki. What a beauty! A lounge with lazy-boys, and fab view over the ocean! A perfect place to while away the afternoon.

We headed down to the Moeraki Tavern around 6pm, a great local! We people watched, a good combination of locals, people up from Dunedin for the weekend, and international tourists. Shame the beer is always so bad. Still, we walked on down to Fleurs Place for our 7pm reservation. We had a fantastic meal - it is a great location, with great atmosphere and wonderful food. Fleur was hovering around, making sure everything was done just so. We had a wonderful smoked eel starter, and then a shared tasting try of 5 different fillets, with simple steamed vegetables. The sun set and the water sparkled outside. Magic treat, a wonderful end to our Alps to Ocean adventure.

Posted by kkoopmanschap 00:09 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Return home - with a puppy

overcast 15 °C

Today was all about collecting Tana from outside Ashburton, and making it home to Nelson - 600km north. An ambitious plan, but needs must.

We used the daylight saving change, to get up at 7am (would have been 8am), and hit the road. We had 160km to get from Moeraki to Hinds. You can imagine our nervousness. We are not really too sure what we are getting ourselves into. But - we know in the long run it is a good idea. Just the early weeks, and today's journey to get through.

We burrowed a crate from Yogi, and she settled into that ok. We took it easy on the road, and stopped about once an hour. Sometimes because she had already tinkled, and sometimes we timed ok. After 11hrs of driving, we made it to Nelson.

Home sweet home! What and adventure. Recommend you try it!

Posted by kkoopmanschap 00:44 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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